Planex: Celebrating 50 years

Jean-Pierre Jardel

Planex was established 50 years ago when Fernand and Pat Jardel set out to design and manufacture a superior product that would revolutionize the architecture and design drawing office. They were the perfect team, the ideas man, engineer, and visionary, and the farmer’s daughter accustomed to hardship, hard work and selflessness.

In 1972, when Planex’s vertical plan cabinets hit the market at the Melbourne Reprographic Trade fair it was years ahead of the competition. Our desire to be the best was born and to this day remains the cornerstone of our company.

As a futurist, Fernand was always looking at new products and technologies. Visiting a trade fair in France he first saw tambour door cabinets and swiftly entered into a license agreement to manufacture and introduce them in Australia. Seeing quality risks linked with outsourcing, he looked at ways of controlling critical manufacturing processes. Bucking the trend of solvent-based paint, he invested in the recently developed powder coating technology using the best available Swiss technology.

This love for mechanical precision, accuracy and a passion for numbers led him to analyze production costs. Pages of calculations were first done using a slide rule then HP scientific calculators and finally a HP9800 minicomputer; loading the software from a disk pack when it was turned on!

Meanwhile, our mother kept him going. In true French tradition every day they stopped to have lunch and a glass of wine….

As Planex grew, my sister Laurette and I would spend holidays and free time working alongside our parents. For me, after completing Uni, my choice was either an academic career or a return to what was already in my blood. It wasn’t a hard decision. Within a few years, our parents decided to retire and I expressed a desire to run the company. A deal was struck and I became the very heavily indebted new owner of Planex.

Needing more space and efficiency, we built our Hallam factory and invested in automated machinery that was both productive and safer such as our Salvagnini panel and robotic benders and finally a fully automated line.

While thinking about Planex’s 50 years I reflected as to why competitors that were once household names no longer existed. Why had they gone and we were still here? I believe the answer is the people at Planex. As a team, we invested in our company and have collectively hundreds of years of experience, and as a business;

  • We have a low attrition rate and retain our talent.
  • We have provided career paths for those that seek challenges and job security for those who are happy to do what they do, and do it well.
  • We are loyal to one another, accepting and fair.
  • We are innovative, creative, resourceful and passionate about what we do.
  • We remain faithful to the values of our founders: We want to be the best, and do our best to achieve this.
  • We acknowledge that quality comes at a price but that poor quality is a cost.
  • We believe in manufacturing locally.
  • We ARE Planex.


In this video, Jean-Pierre Jardel reflects on the making of Planex by his father and mother and how their values became the touchstone for a successful manufacturing business celebrating its 50th year.